what to do with mail that is not yours

Did You Accidentally Commit a Felony? What to Do With Mail that isn’t Yours

There’s nothing as fascinating as receiving the mail you waited so long for. But then, how do you handle a mail that turns out not to be yours? Let’s find out!

what to do with mail that is not yours

UPS has several mails to deliver daily, and sometimes mistakes happen.

The question of what to do with mail that isn’t yours is not an easy one to answer, because if they addressed it to one of your neighbors, you can simply stroll to their door and hand it over.

But what if the mail was addressed to a former tenant? or someone you don’t even know.

It would have been much simpler to dispose of the mail in the trash, but there are grave consequences if you tamper with someone’s mail.

Keep reading to find out how to handle mail that’s not yours

What to Do With Mail that isn’t Yours

what to do with mail that is not yours

Receiving other people’s letters can have serious consequences if they are not handled appropriately.

Whether it is a one-time occurrence or a recurring one, you must manage it carefully.

Here is what you should do if you get a mail that’s not yours:

1. Inform Your Local Post Office

Receiving mail that is incorrectly addressed to someone else isn’t something to be worried about, especially if it happens once.

However, it is frustrating to keep getting other people’s letters in your mailbox.

If you constantly receive mail that is not addressed to you, someone is using your address improperly.

If that’s the case, then you would have to inform your local post office.

The complaint can be made in a letter, by phone, or by email.

You can also ask the person whose mail you are receiving for a change of address form.

On the forwarding address line, you must note that the person moved and did not leave a forwarding address.

For the change to take effect, you must sign the form with your name and state that you live at the current residence.

2. Return to Sender

If the address on the envelope matches your address but it isn’t yours, the mail is being sent to you in error.

Checking the sender’s address in the envelope’s upper left corner should be your initial step.

Write “return to sender” on the envelope to let the mail carrier know that the letter is not yours.

You should not tamper with the letter. One approach to altering the letter is to write with ink.

Use a sticky note to protect the letter from being altered.

The mail carrier, who will mail it back to the sender, will discover it.

3. Get the Mail Delivered Yourself

Having to deliver any mail that is not yours is another option.

This happens if the mail carrier has accidentally deposited mail for your neighbor in your mailbox.

You can choose to place it in their mailbox.

You can drive to their address to deliver it or mail it yourself if the recipient no longer lives in the neighborhood.

You can also explain in the note why the mail was sent to the wrong address.

4. Inform Your Landlord

Sometimes, the mail addressed to the previous tenant can get into your mailbox.

Speaking with your landlord is a strategy to prevent the delivery of such letters to you.

Perhaps the landlord received a forwarding address.

If the landlord has the correct address, they can also send the letter to the former tenant.

The landlord may also benefit from reminding other tenants to update their addresses after moving out.

5. Not This Address

Instead of sending the mail back, you can write “not at this address.”

When the sender rapidly realizes that the recipient doesn’t live at that address, they take action.

Also, telling the post office “not at this address” is helpful.

It will let the postal service know that it is improper to deliver mail and packages to that particular person.

6. Return it to Your Mailbox With a Label on it.

The best course of action is to mark the mail as “return mail” if you’re unable to place it in your neighbor’s mailbox.

Crossing the envelope’s bar code is one method. Whether a scanner or a USPS employee processes the mail, it will be labeled as “undeliverable”.

How to Handle Other People’s Mail

what to do with mail that is not yours

1. Avoid Filling a Change of Address Form for the Recipient

It could get frustrating to always receive mail with the wrong address in your mailbox, especially if you’ve tried to stop it.

You might opt to submit a change of address form for the recipient out of rage. However, this is illegal.

Sending someone else’s letter intentionally to another address is against the law. Only with the recipient’s permission can the recipient’s address be changed.

This is because you can likely give inaccurate information.

The only option is to remind the recipients to update their addresses.

2. Don’t Cross out the Recipient’s Name

Tampering occurs when the recipient’s name is crossed out or covered over with a pen or marker.

 It’s an offense, according to the US Code 1708.

The station manager and postal workers will have trouble identifying the recipient of the mail if the name is crossed.

Also, it is challenging for the post office to update its mailing lists.

It will be difficult for the sender to figure out who to contact if it is returned to them.

Never cross out the recipient’s name to avoid fines and receiving other people’s letters.

3. Do Not Discard the Mail.

The mail may not be irrelevant to the intended recipient, even if it is irrelevant to you.

Do not discard it with your junk mail, as doing so would be termed “mail theft.”

Discarding the mail reduces the likelihood that the letter’s intended receiver will ever find out what was written in it.

The law is strict on purposeful mail tampering.

When you know they sent a message to the wrong address and you discard it, it means you tampered with the information.

If proven guilty, you risk a five-year prison sentence or a $10,000 fine.

4. Don’t Check the Mail

When you find mail in your mailbox, your first inclination is to open it without checking who it is for.

However, opening someone else’s mail is against US law.

You risk receiving a five-year prison sentence or substantial fine if you violate US postal code 1708.

5. Don’t Tamper With the Envelope

Never tamper with an envelope of mail that isn’t yours, despite how curious you may be.

This is because tampering with the envelope or parcel can result in jail time or a fine.

It’s crucial to deliver the mail back in good shape.

Use a sticky note if you wish to write something like “not at this address” or “Return to Sender.”

You won’t be charged with tampering with other people’s mail if you do it this way.


It is not advisable to discard, open, or interfere with another person’s mail.

This results in a significant fine or jail time.

To return the mail properly, adhere to the aforementioned instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

If sending the mail back to the sender doesn’t solve the issue, contact your local post office immediately.

You can do this by visiting your local post office or writing a note to (or speaking with) your mail carrier.

Send a search request through the Missing Mail app, or your Consumer Affairs representative can search on your behalf if you call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

You haven’t broken the law if you mistakenly opened someone else’s mail and intend to send it back to the sender.

You can either reseal the mail and mark it “Return to Sender,”.

CSN Team.

Similar Posts